Is Fat Loss Impossible?
I’m careful about the messages I repeat in my head because I believe that we can think things into reality. So, I don’t like saying, “I just can’t burn fat.” However, my recent running streak and radical lifestyle changes in order to reduce my fat percentage and return to my usual adult weight have been so stunningly stagnant that it seems that thought just might be true. There’s a lot of truthful facts below and some of it may be TMI. However, this project is a science experiment of sorts to me, more about health than vanity, and simply can’t be expressed without the honest and transparent facts.
Starting weight in June: 179.
Normal adult weight without being 8 months pregnant: 155.
The 30 pound weight gain came on suddenly 3 years ago, along with migraines, thyroid symptoms and one doctor’s opinion that the beast chasing my heels is MS. Another several at Mayo reminded me that’s a subjective diagnosis with symptoms that can often be managed by lifestyle.
Goal: become fit and strong again, stave off auto-immune disease, lose 10-15 lbs, and fit into my favorite blue dress again
Perimenopausal symptoms: 3 years. Having 2-3 periods a year, thicker in the belly, and gray hair coming in fast. Blood work does not indicate perimenopause. I am sometimes anemic.
Previous dietary experiments tried, most under a doctor’s care, the ones treating my Hashimoto’s and hormone imbalances:
- The Virgin Diet, 6 miserable months: no chicken, dairy, eggs, legumes, olives, gluten, or sugar.
- Gluten free: 1 year
- no alcohol: frequently, each time between 2-8 weeks
- Low carb: 6 months
I take a Thyroid pill, an acid blocker, and a vitamin D supplement.
I already eat a primarily whole foods “diet” that avoids chemicals and artificial ingredients. I don’t drink soda. Before June I almost never ate breakfast and usually averaged 1200 calories a day. I’m active but work in a job with a lot of sitting and workouts have been sporadic.
In June I started a running streak because running has always meant excess weight slid off my body easily. I have never had an issue shedding weight before the last 3 years. The goal: run for 100 days, watch my food intake, try to eat clean, and maintain a 500 calorie deficit. I do sometimes eat candy, I love good food and will always eat bread and wood-fired pizza, and I want a moderate life.
I averaged 3 miles a day in the summer heat, 1300 calories a day, and with additional yoga work outs about 3 times a week.
Day 50 check in: weight 179, clothes all fit the same.
I did a Facebook Live as part of the challenge to do something new. I shared my calorie targets and got a heap of feedback from weight lifters and fitness buffs who weren’t starving all the time like I was. I decided to try a new approach.
I got a food scale for My Fitness Pal, found a protein shake that didn’t have nasty-ass Stevia in it (BioChem Chocolate), and had my body fat/muscle mass calculated.
35% fat, 16% muscle, 47% water. That means according to the charts, I’m obese.
Days 50-100 of #100runningdays
averaged 1 mile of running with 1 hours of weight lifting using Jamie Eason’s Live Fit Trainer on Bodybuilding.com.I had to learn how to do most of the movements, we joined a gym, and I have an awesome best friend who is doing the same program with the opposite goal: she’s trying to gain.I calculated my TDEE, which raised my calorie count to 1800. I started tracing macro’s with high protein, lower carbs and fat. 5 meals a day, always breakfast, and sometimes I have to have a cheeseburger or I’m going to cut someone. I’ve never had hunger this primal.
weight 179. Clothes all fit the same. Body percentages all the same.
Non-scale changes: 2 periods in 50 days. Noticeable changes to my metabolism. Hormonal fluctuations feeling like 10 years ago. Running longer distances without walking. Very energetic and feeling strong.
Favorite lesson learned: to make time for my health every single day. I didn’t take any days off during this streak but there were 3 days where my “run” was actually a timed session of running in place. Those were days when family demands were just too high to take an hour to go run. But it was interesting to see that family was the ONLY thing that pushed it out. I was able to move everything else in my life around enough to make regular windows for self-care and fitness. That felt so healthy!
Post running streak: a fitness trainer suggested cutting my calories back to 1500 while keeping the protein and fat high, carbs low during this fat-burning time. I added in high-intensity cardio intervals 5 times a week and a long run with a friend one day a week. Protein target for macro’s is 140, Fat is 60, Carbs are 80.This is my eating plan right now, except for one week I took off all exercise and controlled eating in order to rest. I had some french fries. A few times. And, I had some fun with bourbon.
1 month later:
weight 179. Body percentages all the same. Clothes fit the same. 3rd period since the return of them in August; the healthiest cycles I’ve had in years. Hair no longer falling out. Health is good. Lifting progressively heavier and running longer. No headaches.
Plan for the future: go for a year to see how and if things change. #summertosummer. Maybe by June my body will have readjusted to the healthy patterns.
I started a 30 day plank challenge and on my first day, blew my expected ability by over a minute and a half. That was fun. When I posted some thoughts on FB I got a lot of encouragement and support, all very consistent that this non-movement of the metrics isn’t uncommon.